[ RadSafe ] Teaching Reporters about Radiation and Radioactive Materials

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Apr 20 10:58:09 CDT 2012

Dear Roger,

I have practiced it some what successfully. I was in touch with half a dozen good reporters while working in Government service. We maintain the same cordial relation today eight years after my superannuation.There was never a question of "teaching" any reporter. It was open discussions with appropriate authentic documentation.

As a member of an IAEA Advisory Group,I could share the experiences gained with other members of the group before we reviewed and finalized the draft of the IAEA Safety Report no 24 titled "Communication Planning by the Nuclear Regulatory Body. The manual will be useful for any regulatory agency setting up its communication mechanism.It is available for free down load at:



 From: Roger Helbig <rwhelbig at gmail.com>
To: RADSAFE <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu> 
Sent: Friday, 20 April 2012, 8:20
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Teaching Reporters about Radiation and Radioactive Materials
I was culling some copies of old e-mail files to make room in my
laptop's hard drive and I saved a number of them - this one was in
reply to a suggestion I made in January 2006 and given the
misinformation that abounds on Fukushima, I thought that it is still
very germane today.  Thank you, Susan.

Roger Helbig

I've had discussions with a number of reporters about how they handle
scientific/technical controversies.  They don't try to report the
facts--most of them don't have the training to distinguish what the
facts are.  They report the controversy, and they look for quotes from
people on both sides of it.  They are always interested in getting
information from a subject-matter expert, so the best thing is to
develop a working relationship with the reporters in your area and let
them know you are available to be consulted (and quoted) in your field
of expertise.

If you are called, try to respond with pithy sound-bites or quotable
quotes that have enough substance to support your point.  A lengthy
technical explanation will never be published, and you run the risk of
having a statement quoted out of context.  What is best is if you can
respond to questions via e-mail - if you write well and can keep it
brief and to an 8th grade readership level, you may get your entire
quote published.  I've done a good bit of writing for my reporter
friends this way!

Susan Gawarecki
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